Clio Logo
The Dat So La Lee House served as the home of the well-known Washoe Indian basket weaver Louisa Keyser, better known as Dat So La Lee, her Indian name. Abram Cohn, the husband of La Lee’s promoter, Clarrise Amy Cohn, built the home for La Lee around 1914. The one-story, gable-roofed, vernacular board and batten cottage is in fair condition and continues to be utilized as a private residence. The Dat So La Lee House resides within Carson City’s historic district on the west side of town. The cottage, during the time when La Lee lived there, consisted of only one room, with a corner sectioned off for the purpose of a bathroom, which had a toilet with a pull-chain.

Branch, Property, Residential area, Neighbourhood

Sitting, Temple, Vintage clothing, Storage basket

Residential area, Branch, Window, Neighbourhood

Serveware, Monochrome, Still life photography, Vintage clothing

Wicker, Home accessories, Still life photography, Circle

Shelf, Shelving, Collection, Display case

The Dat So La Lee House is historically significant for its association with Louisa Keyser, a Washoe Indian basket weaver of world renown. Louisa Keyser, was also known as Dat So La Lee, her Indian name, which means, “big around the middle or big hips”. La Lee was a Washoe from the Woodfords-Markleeville, California area – La Lee was born in this same area around the year 1861.  

The Washoe Indians were the primary inhabitants of the Great Basin, with aboriginal territory extending from Honey Lake, California in the north, Antelope Valley to the south, the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the west, and the Pine Nut Mountains to the east – the area was approximately one-hundred-fifty miles long by fifty miles wide. During the summer months, Washoe would comb through the eastern valleys and mountains ranges to gather pine nuts and organize hunting trips. Once these hunts were over, the Washoe returned to their winter camps where the women could spend many hours weaving baskets while the men repaired and manufactured tools and hunting equipment. 

Very little is known concerning the childhood of Dat So La Lee. Her mother died when she was very young, possibly even an infant, as it was known that La Lee did not remember her mother. La Lee was more than likely raised by an aunt or grandmother, which was a traditional practice for Washoe children who had lost their mother. It was likely this mysterious woman who raised Dat So La Lee who taught her to weave the baskets that she eventually became famous for. 

Dat So La Lee is recognized for her outstanding contribution to the practice of Washoe basket weaving – she was largely responsible for developing the practice of Washoe basket weaving into an artform. During her lifetime, La Lee was the only American Indian basket weaver to gain a semblance of international fame for her work. Through the efforts of her primary promoter, Clarrise Amy Cohn, La Lee’s baskets were, and still are, recognized as true works of art and are sold throughout the world for very large sums of money. La Lee was a very intelligent woman who made the best of the whites’ presence in the Washoe world. 

Dat So La Lee House, National Register of Historic Places. Accessed December 10th 2020.

Cuccaro, Marcia. Dat So La Lee, Nevada Women's History Project. January 1st 2016. Accessed January 21st 2021.